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Servants have a heart, plan 1 million meals

By Shannon Beamon Staff Writer A million meals can go a long way. That much food can feed a single person for 913 years, a family of 10 for about 95 years or a town the size of Richfield for about a year and a half. “And that’s what we’re about to do,” Jackie Jernigan said. This month, Stanly County volunteers will pack their millionth meal for the non-profit organization Servants with a Heart, she said. Those meals will go specifically to feed hungry families in Nicaragua and in the Charlotte region. “That’s a million meals delivered by Stanly County alone, whole families fed by people right here,” Jernigan said. It’s also about 7 percent of the 13 million meals delivered by Servants with a Heart since it started in 2011. “It’s pretty significant to think that a single, rural county could provide all that,” Jernigan said. Especially considering that the bulk of the county’s participation didn’t begin until 2014, just four years of packing meals. “It’s exciting, but we’re not quite there yet,” she said. Before that millionth meal can be reached, she said, they’re going to need some help. While the fundraising for the meals is done (each meal costs about 15 cent to prepare), they yet have enough hands to fill up the milestone packages. “We’re needing volunteers to come out and bag those meals up,” Jernigan said. Right now, three shifts are available over two dates: one 9-11:30 a.m. Feb. 22, one 9-11:30 a.m. Feb. 24 and one 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Feb. 24. All packaging will be done at Prospect Baptist Church this year. “It’s such an uplifting time, a celebratory time,” Jernigan said. Each table is assigned 8-10 workers, she said, and each person has a job, whether that’s measuring rice or adding vitamin supplements. Then as each box gets filled up with packaged meals, volunteers give a shout. Usually, there’s friendly competition going on between tables, too. And even those who are too young to bag food have a job: draw on the cardboard shipping boxes. “When the boxes get to Nicaragua, the people there use them on the inside of their huts, drawings and all,” Jernigan said. “Nothing is wasted.” Even at home, the time put into the packaging has value, she added. “The beauty of the event is that you get to see what a determined group of people can do,” Jernigan said. “It allows people of all ages and all walks of life to come together and have one focus. And that focus is serving mankind.” To sign up for a shift with the Stanly County Servants with a Heart packing event, call (704) 756-9803 or visit www.servantswithaheart.org/volunteer. Contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24, or shannon@stanlynewspress.com.